The countdown to Christmas is officially on, which may leave you feeling overwhelmed for the month ahead. Lenard’s Celebrity Culinary Coach Elle Harrison, has offered her top tips for creating a memorable, cost effective and stress-free celebration, leaving you more time to get into the Christmas spirit.
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Make a list (and check it twice)
When planning any celebratory spread, it’s important to allow plenty of time to gather inspiration and decide on your menu, work out your shopping list and select the perfect table setting theme. Start by writing a shortlist of your favourite recipes and decide if you wish to have a turkey, chicken, ham, or seafood. Remember to ask your family and friends if they have any food intolerances or allergies and ensure you have enough variety in the menu to cater for these guests.
Once you have decided on the menu, note the ingredients you require and any recipes that can be prepared in advance. Now is also the time to pull out your festive tableware and add any other decorations to the shopping list that will bring your chosen theme to life.
Know your budget
When planning a festive menu, it can be difficult to stick to a budget especially when you are so eager to create a showstopper spread. To avoid overspending, it is a good idea to breakdown your Christmas budget into drinks, food and decorations, and then allocate a manageable spending limit for each expense. Another great way to keep a lid on your trolley spending is tailoring your menu to the season. Do your research and find out which fruits and vegetables are abundant at that time of year.
With Christmas falling into summer, it’s actually the perfect time to create desserts and platters showcasing a variety of Australian berries and stone fruit. For the main meal, a citrus inspired stuffing for your roast chicken or turkey also adds a touch of Aussie summer to your Christmas feast. Incorporating seasonal produce into your Christmas menu is not only more affordable due to the ready supply, but will also ensure meals are made with deliciously fresh and high quality ingredients.
Look for time-savers
Christmas is inherently a stressful time of year, especially if you are on hosting duties. With the pressure to put on an impressive feast, sometimes even your most fool-proof recipes can go awry! Alleviate stress and time spent in the kitchen on Christmas day by preparing and freezing meals in advance. Use a combination of ready-made dishes to complement those made from scratch.
While you may enjoy the process of roasting your own Christmas turkey or chicken to perfection, don’t feel ashamed by adding some ready-made dishes to your table. Complete your Christmas feast with festive sausages and decadent meat pastries, or opt for conveniently pre-cooked roasted turkey breast if you are time poor, all of which can be found at your local Lenard’s store.
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Add your signature touch
To create a memorable Christmas spread, the secret is in the signature touches. Impress your guests with a flavoursome gravy to accompany the meat and trimmings by using the pan juices from your mantle-piece roast, or a signature stuffing with a twist. You can also draw inspiration from an old family recipe by incorporating festive flavours.
I plan to create this traditional Maltese Summer Greens with Fig & Caramelised Onion Chicken Sausages recipe which I tweaked for my family Christmas celebrations – which are always a big affair! Remember, food and entertaining doesn’t need to be difficult. Focus on what you can do well, cook what you love and always try to use the freshest quality products available to you.
Get creative and plate up
There are many unique ways to present your festive fare, depending on the size and format of your gathering – whether it be large or intimate, formal or casual. Food truly brings family and friends together and share plates are an easy way to cater for a large group while showcasing the vibrant colours, quality and freshness of each dish.
Select an array of platters and plates in different sizes and shapes to add some variety to your table setting. This brings a rustic and homemade feel to your table and encourages guests to dig in and enjoy good food and conversation – the essential elements for a perfect Christmas day.
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